Microplane admit to posing as blog readers to diss their competitor, Ped Egg

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Sometimes writing for a beauty blog – or any blog, really – can be quite the eye opener. It's amazing what some companies will do to try and promote themselves while dissing their competitors, and today I came across a good example of this, on my post about the Ped Egg.

In my post, I compared the Ped Egg to the Microplane Foot File. I've used both, and liked both products (you can read my review of the Microplane here), and as I noted in my review, the only real difference between the two, for me, is the price, with Microplane the more expensive of the two. I stand by that opinion, and the respective costings are simple fact which anyone can check out for themselves.

If you look at that post, you'll see that the first comment comes from someone called "Laurie", who says she would never buy a Ped Egg as they're made in China and don't last as long as the far-superior (in her opinion) Microplane. Now, this may well be true: I've only had my Ped Egg for a week or so, so I can't comment on how long it will last, but I did find it a little strange that someone would be so vehemently opposed to a product they hadn't even tried. That set alarm bells ringing, so when a second comment came in from someone calling herself "Amanda", voicing exactly the same opinions, I was suspicious enough to check the IP addresses the two comments had been posted from.

(For those who don't know, your IP address shows a blog owner the location of your computer. You'll find more information on that here.)

Surprise, surprise: both comments had been posted from the same IP address, which suggests they came from the same location, if not the same computer. As it turned out, both "Laurie" and "Amanda" were posting from somewhere called Russellville, Arkansas. Which is…

…the location of Microplane's US office.

Suspecting that "Laurie" and "Amanda" were, in fact, the same person, and probably a Microplane employee, I decided to email them both to find out. I also copied my email to the address on the Microplane website, stating that I was looking for an official response for a follow-up story. Here's the response I received, which has now also been posted on the original article:

"yes, i do work for microplane, and just stated the truth. With recent products that have been recalled from China, I do not trust things that deal with my skin and health to them. We have done extensive research to prove the longevity of our products and they far outlast the cheaply made products from China. They copied our patent. If you want to support China and not the USA, then that is your choice. You get what you pay for. We have patents for a reason and when we are copied, then it eats at the very fabric of the nation and its economic health. Support the USA…Buy American made products!!"

Now, I'm not going to comment on any of the claims made in this, purely because I don't know anything about this issue, although if Ped Egg would like to make a response, I'll be happy to publish it.

What I would like to comment on, though, is the dishonesty and lack of professionalism that Microplane have exhibited here by posing as two different members of the public in order to try to persuade readers of this site not to buy a competitor's product. I find this underhand and deceitful, and regardless of the truth of the claims they're making about patents, I would not trust any company which resorts to this kind of behavior.

To be clear on this: if Microplane wanted to comment on the article under their own name I would have been happy for them to do so. They have as much right to comment here as anyone else, perhaps more so given that the article in question made reference to them. I would not have had a problem with Amanda/Laurie commenting here as long as she made it clear that she was a Microplane employee and was speaking on their behalf. That would have been the honest thing to do.

But she didn't.

Instead she pretended to be an ordinary, unbiased reader of this site. And then she came back and pretended to be someone else, so that she could agree with her first comment, thus creating the impression that lots of people didn't like the Ped Egg, when in fact there was only one, and that one was an employee of Microplane. (I wonder how many other names she'd have commented under if she hadn't been caught out?) She pretended that she was advising you all not to buy a Ped Egg purely because her experience was that it was a bad product, when, in fact, she was actually advising you not to buy one because she is a Microplane employee, and Microplane clearly have their own reasons for not wanting you to shop with their competitor. (And again, I'm making no comment here about whether those reasons are good ones or bad ones - that's for the makers of Ped Egg to answer, not me.)

In other words, Microplane lied. They may not have lied about their product – I'm sure they believe it to be superior to the Ped Egg, and they may well have grounds for complaint about copyright, who knows – but they certainly, and by their own admission, lied when they came onto this site and tried to convince you that they were fellow blog readers, with no ulterior motive for the comments they were making.

Of course, you can draw your own conclusions about all of this. Personally, though, I don't trust a company who are prepared to leave fake comments on blogs and to deliberately try to mislead people about their identity, in order to prevent them from buying a competitor's product, so I know I won't be shopping with Microplane again, regardless of whether or not their claims about their competitor turn out to be true.

(Disclaimer: Before anyone says it, I'd just like to make it clear that I have no affiliation with Ped Egg. I wasn't paid to review their product, and it wasn't sent to me for free – as the original article states, I went into a store and bought it with my own money. The product is available to buy, legally, in many stores and websites across America and in the UK, and my review was my own personal opinion. Also, as some people have already pointed out, I'm not a US resident, so I have no reason to promote American products above anyone else's. To be blunt, I really don't care where a product is made, as long as it works (although I guess Microplane's response would've been even funnier if I was actually Chinese!)

15 Comments

  • July 7, 2009

    Kat Hannaford

    Good on you for naming and shaming, you definitely did the right thing. It’s such a shame Microplane did this, I’m sure they’ll lose many customers.

  • July 7, 2009

    Melissa

    I commented on the original post that started this, but I agre with you. I am now mistrustful of Microplane and even feel weird about owning one of their cheese graters. I think the grater works really well but due to this kind of attitude and response from the company, I don’t know if I would ever buy anything else from them. Good going Amanda/Laurie/whover-you-are, instead of promoting your company, you’ve now lost customers for it.

  • July 7, 2009

    Mhairi

    I can’t believe that this happened.
    If I were you I would send a copy of the original review along with all the comments to Microplane to see if they knew anything about this – maybe this individual has acted without Microplane’s knowledge.
    I am sure they would like to know that because of one of their employees actions that have now lost a number of customers.
    x

  • July 7, 2009

    Camilla

    Thanks for posting this. I’d like to say I’m surprised by Microplane’s employee’s actions but I’m not as spamming is on the rise with less than clued-up companies.
    I’ll certainly be dubious about buying from a company that are so pathetic and underhand as to write comments about pretending to be an impartial consumer. And I’d say they’ve laid the way clear for Ped Egg to bring a libel suit. Clever!

  • July 7, 2009

    Nina

    Very cool article, it’s always interesting to see the strange forms some things take on…
    Personally, I have bought a Microplane foot file (the oval one with “container”) because of your positive review in the past.
    And I want to add that I am from Germany, so that (if the company reads this) they know that your posts resound not only locally in the UK, but in other countries as well. Positive and negative posts alike!
    I am very satisfied with the product so far, but I am absolutely amazed that apparently the company doesn’t have its staff under control.
    If anyone from our company would have done a similar thing and they would get reported, they’d be in a hell lot of trouble. And rightly so! So I agree with Mhairi, you would do the right thing by mailing the company to let them know.
    Well done, Amber!
    Many greetings from a loyal German reader

  • July 7, 2009

    Diana

    I do love Dollface! This is such an exciting post!
    I wonder, though, if it’s Microplane as a company that should be mistrusted, or just some idiot employee who went on her own stealth mission to promote her company?
    I should say that I don’t work for Microplane or know anyone who does. I have one and I only use it for cheese–although now, I’m kind of grossed out by the foot one to want to use it ever again! LOL
    but my point is, if this Laurie/Amanda person took it upon her/itself to do this, it mightn’t be fair to blame Microplane as a company. UNLESS the company told or encouraged its employees to do this underhanded behavior. it just seems unfair to assign untrustworthy behavior to a whole company because of one deceitful employee. That’s all I’m sayin’.
    I won’t be shaving my feet anytime soon, however… ick.

  • July 8, 2009

    Dollface

    Mhairi/Nina/Diana – I did actually email Microplane directly before writing this article: as I said in the post, I made it clear that I was writing a follow-up, and asked for an official comment from them. They didn’t reply to me, although obviously if they DO reply, I’ll be happy to publish their response. If this employee acted on her own initiative, then of course Microplane can’t be blamed for that, but I guess they’d want to know about it.

  • July 8, 2009

    Antonia

    Jaysus. Good on you for busting their tricks; it amazes me that seemingly respectable companies genuinely have the gall to do this. :
    (Oh, and I’ve had a Ped Egg for about six months and it works juuuuuust fine.)

  • July 8, 2009

    Gemma

    That’s pretty deplorable behaviour, but fairly likely to be just one renegade employee rather than a company policy. At least, that’s what they’ll tell you (if they get back to you!).
    Makes me more likely to buy a Ped Egg than a Microplane product!

  • July 8, 2009

    Belle

    Wow, that’s some shady behaviour! I was considering buying a PedEgg after your good review and this just makes me more certain that I want that one as opposed to the Microplane version :p
    Love all your blogs Amber! Although Dollface does make a considerable dent in my budget each month.

  • July 8, 2009

    Theodora

    Wow! That’s crazy. I agree that it’s completely dishonest and shady of her to use a fake name instead of simply commenting under her real name and making her affiliation with the company clear. Good on you for calling them out!
    -T

  • July 9, 2009

    Amy

    Nice bit of sleuthing, Amber! As someone from the US, it always makes me chuckle when someone takes up the cry “Support America, buy USA!” without any conditions. Silly Microplane employee, why would someone outside of the US care about supporting America? Compound that with her manipulative commenting and it seems there’s one more unscrupulous and blindly patriotic American making us look bad. Bleh.

  • July 10, 2009

    Mona

    Very interesting post! It is indeed a bad idea to pretend you are unbiased if you are in fact an employee. But the copyright thing and where stuff is produced is a serious issue. If you come up with a patented product, wouldn’t you be annoyed if someone else copies it for a profit? I am a German, live in the US and am not associated with Microplane in any way. I still try to buy stuff that is produced locally, mainly because I’d like to keep some manufacturing jobs around where I live, although I found that a lot of American/European brands have their products made in China anyway. I wonder where the Microplane graters are actually made. I would like to support who came up with an idea first and produces their items in a non-sweatshop manner. Don’t worry Amy, whatever Microplane does will not affect my (good) opinion of Americans, even if I am not a fan of blind patriotism (for any nationality) and fake postings. Thanks for pointing this out Amber, I really enjoy reading your blogs! I think I will keep using my microplane grater happily (for food, not the feet kind), despite their employee’s actions.

  • July 16, 2009

    Angela

    I am a faithful Microplane user and I do love their products and I have all their foot files I have to say there is no comparison. I am not a worker for Microplane and am not a family member in a way shape or form. I have also tried the Ped Egg in question when it came out because I was curious because it is in price comparison less costly. It does not hold up as well I am here to say for my feet at least. Just to tell you all out there. I do not really care what the person at Microplane did to be honest because she is going to do what she needs to do to get her word out there because she has a good product and the product speaks for itself people all of them do they are wonderful! No matter what XYZ person said on this post. The Microplane’s foot files are wonderful and they as always are Grade A number one in their class.

  • July 17, 2009

    Dollface

    See, every time I see a comment like Angela’s now (especially when it reads just like an advert for Microplane) I suspect it’s someone connected to the company, even if they claim not to be. THAT’S the effect of posting fake comments: it means that if and when people do post real ones, they don’t get believed. Boy Who Cried Wolf, anyone?
    Anyway, I’m closing comments on this post because I’m pretty sure Microplane are continuing to try and post fake comments on it and I’m just not going to allow that. Thanks for all the feedback, folks!